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Communications and Psychosocial Support in the Aftermath of a Terror Attack or Act of Violent Extremism

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— 2 minutes reading time

In August 2022, the Strong Cities Network Central Management Unit delivered a training in Malé, Maldives, on communications and psychosocial support in the aftermath of a terror attack or act of violent extremism.

Hosted in partnership with the Global Center on Cooperative Security, the two-day workshop brought together representatives from the Malé and Addu City Councils, Maldives Police Service, National Counter Terrorism Centre, and other national government agencies.

The first day focused on post-incident communications, with an emphasis on responsible public communications in the immediate, short- and long-term aftermath of an attack. Participants were taken through key principles and objectives of crisis communications, including post-incident messaging, key stakeholders in response, the process of post-crisis communications, and how messaging may differ immediately after, a few hours after, and several days after an attack. To put this training into practice, participants were shown real-life examples of strong and weak crisis communications and were asked to produce messaging as part of a hypothetical scenario in which Malé had suffered an attack.

The second day focused on community engagement and the provision of post-incident psychosocial support. The session on community engagement provided participants, which included law enforcement and central and local government representatives, with tips for establishing productive and sustainable relationships with the communities they serve, and why this is essential in the aftermath of crisis. Topics included mapping local needs, services and actors, building trust and sustaining collaboration, engaging the public in both a preventative and post-attack capacity, mapping community needs and how these can be addressed through programming.

Strong Cities Senior Manager Charlotte Moeyens then took participants through a series of community engagement examples, including its Young Cities youth engagement model and local prevention network model. The psychosocial support session, which first focused on those directly impacted (e.g., survivors, families of victims), was facilitated by Strong Cities’ partner One World Strong Foundation (OWS), which provides peer-to-peer mentorship for survivors of acts of mass-casualty violence across the world. OWS’s founder, Dave Fortier, shared his experiences and the experiences of those with whom he works in supporting survivors of mass-casualty violence, followed by models of support for frontline practitioners in a post-attack environment.

The training was inspired by the Strong Cities Network Toolkit: Responding to a Terror Attack, which was developed with support from the US Department of State and is available in EnglishFrench and Arabic.

The training is a first step in what the Strong Cities Network hopes will be sustained engagement with cities and stakeholders in the Maldives and the wider South Asia region through its soon-to-be-launched South Asia Regional Hub. For more information on the Regional Hubs, see here.

For more information on Strong Cities’ post-attack resources or engagement in South Asia, please contact us at [email protected].